The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The 14 staff-side unions have taken the NHS’ 72nd birthday as an opportunity to ask the government for an early pay boost for the workforce. 

The unions have sent both the prime minister and the chancellor letters, setting out they are not seeking a covid bonus payment but instead a fair pay reward to make up for “years of pay capping and freezes”.

The three-year Agenda for Change deal was up for renegotiation at the end of this year anyway so the unions – representing all non-medical staff – are looking to kick this off early.

“As the clapping returns this weekend for the NHS’ birthday, ministers can show how much they value health staff by committing to an early pay rise that the entire country supports,” Unison’s head of health, Sara Gorton, said.

Both safe and sorry

The supply of personal protective equipment to frontline clinicians has been one of the most debated aspects of the government’s response to covid-19.

But now experts are warning that the way PPE has been used throughout the pandemic may have endangered patients – even if it’s protected staff.

The Infection Prevention Society has said “inconsistent” guidelines from NHS England and Public Health England has led clinicians to believe gloves should be worn at all times in ICUs.

That has led to practices such as “double-gloving” or cleaning the same pair of gloves between patients – rather than using them for one patient only.

It comes amid concern that antimicrobial resistance could be on the rise due to heavy use of antibiotics in the early days of the pandemic.